The four aspects of health profiling are; 1.collecting and analysing information2. selecting priorities for action 3. choosing nursing activities, including methods of working, for selected priorities 4. evaluating nursing practice. Information, should be gathered base on regional demographics of disease such as; incidence of disease, illness, diasbilty and trauma and on the existing health system and what it provides and does not provide for the community based on its defined and identified needs.
Once information has been gathered it can be analysed to identify and select priorities. Priorities can be aimed at individuals, at a group or community level, or at a national and/or local campaign level. Appropriate nursing activities can then be chosen to pursue appropriate action....The following presents a summary of suggestions for key activities: 1. assess the health needs of local populations through compilation of health profiles 2. support people to participate in the life of their community to influence factors which affect their health 3. build healthy alliances and a supportive infrastructure to provide information, resources and practical help for community initiatives 4. increase health resources in communities by establishing local networks 5.engage with the local statutory and voluntary groups to work towards health related policies and actions 6.increase uptake of health services by ensuring they are accessible, offered appropriately and effectively targeted. (Thomas, 1999, p. 66)
Additionally, there may be a specific need to detail not only the health needs and demographics of the community and appraise current and potential for the meeting of those needs but the poverty level of the community. Nurses often see those who do not seek health care, unless they are a part of a system that provides last resort care for low income individuals, such as an emergency room or a free clinic. It is therefore not unusual to feel insular and as if there is not as significant of a problem as may be reported in the press. Yet, it does not take long, once someone really takes a look to realize that in almost every community, and certainly in some more than others there is poverty and need.
An essential part of health profiling should be the identification of measures of poverty (RCN 1996a). The basic principles of profiling outlined above can be applied....This knowledge can then provide the means by which registered nurses can plan, target, deliver and audit nursing services to ensure appropriate provision. It can also provide supporting evidence for requests for additional health resources and resources from other statutory agencies.
One way that an individual nurse could create awareness practices in addition to striving toward poverty and health profiling in their community would be to advocate for the development of a share system where nurses can move from one setting to another, allowing them the opportunity, say one day a month to work in an environment that offers care to underserved populations. A shared system, like this would be welcomed by almost any clinic or service that provides such care as staffing is usually one of their greatest problems. Additionally, almost any organization either for or non-profit would value the opportunity, if they believed individual nurses were willing to do so, to partner and help in a broader need base situation, if for no other reason than for corporate social responsibility.
As a single individual, or even a single member of a professional industry or organization it often seems as if one person cannot make that much of a difference. Lobbying for change even on the most limited level can make a difference. A community awareness program such as that suggested by the information on community health profiling is something one individual can see a need for and lobby to have done. Additionally, the fact that nurses and specialized nurses provide almost 80% of the care to patients gives the nurse a particularly strong reason and right to lobby for change in a local and national arena.
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